Wyoming Legislative Coverage

Wyoming Public Radio will bring you coverage of the 2020 legislative session. Read and listen to our coverage from the session. You can also follow our coverage on Twitter using the hashtag #wyleg.

The 2020 Budget Session begins February 10th.

Keep updated with this session:

Bob Beck

Wyoming legislative leaders say they will delay the bulk of the 2021 legislative session until the state's COVID-19 outbreak is under control.

Wyoming Legislature logo
Wyoming Legislature

The Campbell County Commissioners have chosen a replacement for the late Roy Edwards. Former Campbell County Commissioner Chris Knapp will take over the term of Rep. Edwards and represent District 53 at the state legislature.

pxfuel.com, Public Domain

The state legislature's Joint Education Committee has moved forward with a bill that would require school districts to provide suicide prevention training to students.

Location for Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project. Several in public comment spoke from the county, along with a project official
Power Company of Wyoming

The state legislature's Joint Revenue Committee set aside time during a recent meeting to learn how the wind industry is currently being taxed in the state; no bill on the subject was under discussion.

Public Domain

The Legislature's Joint Revenue Committee has voted to recommend approval of a nine cent fuel tax increase to pay for highway maintenance. Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Luke Reiner said WYDOT faces a funding gap of $136 million and the tax increase would help chip away at that.

Industrial Hemp
Mountain Xpress

State lawmakers decided to table a bill that could have potentially tightened hemp product regulations. 

The draft bill that was introduced by Powell Sen. R.J. Kost looked to ban the possession and sale of hemp for smoking. It also would have forbidden CBD, a by-product of hemp, from being added to any alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages and food products without the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

Wyoming PBS

Gov. Mark Gordon is proposing more than half a billion dollars in cuts to state agencies in his supplemental budget.

At a press conference on Monday, Gordon said that after July's round of 10 percent cuts, it was time to look at which departments could absorb more.

McFadden Wind Farm
Leigh Paterson

The Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Committee voted to sponsor and move forward with a bill that would effectively raise the tax on generating wind energy in Wyoming. The bill removes the three year tax exemption given to companies before a $1 per megawatt hour tax sets in.

wyodems.org

It was no surprise that President Donald Trump overwhelmingly won Wyoming last night. But Democrats in the state were hoping for wins locally.

NPR

Wyoming voters reminded everyone that it's still a strongly red state. Republicans won the majority of races and three incumbent Democrats were defeated.

Wyoming Legislature

Gillette State Rep. Roy Edwards has died. The Casper Star Tribune reported on Monday afternoon the 66-year-old died on that morning after a week-long struggle with an unspecified illness.

Last weekend, as the Wind River Reservation was bracing for snow, Wyoming State Rep. Andi Clifford was squeezing in some campaigning in the parking lot of Great Plains Hall in Arapahoe. 

Wyoming Department of Corrections

Gov. Mark Gordon has announced the new director of the Wyoming Department of Corrections (WDOC). Dan Shannon has been with the department since 2007 and previously served as the deputy director. Shannon, who's been in the corrections field for more than 20 years, said reorganization of the department due to budget cuts is his main focus. He spoke with Wyoming Public Radio's Catherine Wheeler about how the department will be adapting to working with less.

Eda Uzunlar

Wyoming's revenue picture looks better than it did in May, but a top state budget analyst told the legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee that it's still not good. 

WYDOT

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) is looking at new options to generate revenue as the department faces a $135 million revenue shortfall.

The department is mainly funded by federal dollars and a fuel tax, but WYDOT Director Luke Reiner said the tax has its limitations.

money
CC0 Public Domain

This week, Gov. Mark Gordon started addressing Wyoming's $1.5 billion shortfalls with $250 million in budget cuts.

The cuts are due to the economic fallout from COVID-19 and a sudden drop in energy prices. Gordon has said he would like to see cuts, reserves, and some new revenue sources used together to address the shortfall, but that remains difficult.

Bob Beck

  

Some notable legislators lost their seats in last night's Wyoming Primary, many were targets of a conservative arm of the Republican Party. 

Bob Beck

Tuesday, August 18 is Wyoming's primary election, and while there is a race for the state's open U.S. Senate seat, more interesting races surround the attempt by the conservative arm of the state Republican party to gain power in the legislature. Nick Reynolds of the Casper Star Tribune joined Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck to discuss this.

Rig count in Wyoming over the past year
Y Chart

The legislature's Joint Minerals, Business & Economic Development Committee voted in favor of sponsoring a bill they hope will incentivize new oil and gas production in the state.

Petroleum Association of Wyoming

There are currently only two oil and gas rigs operating in the state right now, down from 30 last year. The Joint Minerals, Business & Economic Development Committee approved the drafting of two bills to help the industry, whose downturn will severely hurt the state's revenue picture.

Jimmy Emerson, DVM via https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Wyoming legislators were told that state revenue projections are down $1.5 billion from January led by a huge drop in projected oil prices. 

The state legislature's Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee met this week to discuss revenue issues facing the state's transportation department.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) presented a potential solution to its revenue shortfall: a road user charge. That's when drivers, both commercial and personal, pay a fee for the miles they drive on state roads and highways. Several states, including some in our region, are working on similar ideas.

Surgical Face Mask by NurseTogether is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Gov. Mark Gordon updated the state on the recent legislation lawmakers passed during last week's special session.

Gordon praised the legislature's ability to work effectively in determining how and when to spend federal CARES Act funding. He said he will be signing the three bills that passed.

WYDOT

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) will be meeting with the legislature's Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Committee this week.

Several members of the Joint Minerals Committee meeting over Zoom for the first time before the Special Session
Wyoming Legislature Youtube

The Joint Minerals, Business & Economic Development Interim Committee amended a bill that will determine how federal relief funds will eventually reach Wyoming businesses. Among other changes, the committee decided to double the allotted funds from $25 million to $50 million available.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming legislative leaders have been told the state may face revenue declines between $555 million to $2.8 billion as a result of the coronavirus.

Bob Beck

Over the years there's been a conflict between news, advocacy organizations and members of the public versus government agencies when it comes to documents and information. Many times these issues go to court. In an effort to make all sides play better together, the legislature created the position of Ombudsman to settle these disputes. Ruth Van Mark joins Bob Beck to discuss her role in the state.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Legislature wrapped up its work this week with concerns about the future. A downturn in oil prices and worries about a drop in investment income has lawmakers thinking that they may need to make some difficult decisions in the not-too-distant future.

www.nrel.gov

There were only six bills centered on renewables this session, but you'd be forgiven to think there were many more. Even when it wasn't the topic of conversation, renewables were on lawmaker's minds.

Savannah Maher

During the legislative session, Representative Andi Clifford's days start before dawn. So, when her friend Representative Sara Burlingame picks her up from her hotel early on a February morning, the first thing on their agenda is getting caffeinated.

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